City of Crows

Title: City of Crows (omnibus edition includes Soul Breaker, Shade Chaser, Wraith Hunter, Doom Sayer, and Day Killer)
Publisher: Knite and Day Publishing
Author: Clara Coulson
Pages: 1444pp total
Price: $9.99 (ebook)

Cal Kinsey is a rookie agent with the Department of Supernatural Investigations. Two years ago, he was an ordinary police officer. Then his partner was murdered by a vampire — and the only people who didn’t think he was crazy were with the DSI. So he signs on to help protect the city of Aurora, Michigan from vampires, werewolves, fae, witches, and assorted other beings. Placed on an elite detective squad, he soon finds himself caught up in a vast conspiracy involving rogue witches, militant werewolves, murderous vampires, and … the (literal) Underworld ….

I thoroughly enjoyed Coulson’s Frost Arcana series, so, when I heard about the box set for City of Crows, I downloaded it immediately.

I really like Cal, and his supporting cast is just as great: Captain Riker, Cooper Lee the archivist, Erica the witch, and many others. Cal’s mother died when he was eight, saving her employees from a fire.* All Cal wants to do is live up to her example, to be a hero just like her. No matter how much it hurts, he will never fail the people who depend upon him.

And — wow — does he get hurt. A lot. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, concussions, and more than few bullet holes. When he’s not jumping out of windows, falling through the floor of bombed-out buildings, or being tortured by werewolves, he’s going one-on-one with spirits of the underworld. As in Charun and Vanth from Etruscan lore. And Ammit from Egyptian mythology.

And that is one thing that I particularly enjoyed about City of Crows. Every pantheon is real. Every earthly belief system has a basis in the Eververse, where Gods, Goddesses, fae, and so on all exist. That is also where human souls go at the moment of death, called to their appointed afterlife. Beings like Charun and Ammit are not evil; the actions they engage in while on Earth are terrible, but they are following a different code of conduct. A divine code, not a human code.

Fair warning, though: the violence in City of Crows is pretty graphic. It’s not just that the action sequences are detailed. It’s that the violence done to people — often fatal, sometimes not — is equally detailed. This might be too much for some readers.

City of Crows is a terrific urban fantasy series, filled with heroes fighting the good fight. And I, for one, need heroes I can root for, characters I can cheer on against insurmountable odds. Highly recommended to fans of Ilona Andrews, Tina Gower’s Outlier Prophecies, Helen Harper’s City of Magic books, Gail Z. Martin’s Spells, Salt, and Steel, and E.J. Stevens’ Ivy Granger series.

*Well, sort of.

[Reviewed by Rebecca Buchanan.]